Homemade "Sun-dried" Tomatoes
I'm hanging out at my parents place, and we're taking advantage of their late-summer garden harvest. They have more tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and plums than they know what to do with - if you ask me, a great 'problem' to have! To preserve some of their buckets of cherry tomatoes (which are also amazing freshly picked) we're making home-made "sun-dried" tomatoes. It's really simple and the flavour is amazing, plus you get to skip some of the preservatives that are often added to the store-bought ones.
Since we don't get real heat here on the west coast, there isn't any sun involved in the "sun-drying" at all - it's all oven! If you have a dehydrator I bet that would work really well too. I haven't tried these with full-sized tomatoes but I bet you could do it with them as well, they'd just take longer to dry.
Once they're dried, keep them in an air-tight container on the counter and use them as you would use sun-dried tomatoes, or to add a pop of flavour to any dish. I don't know how to store them longer-term, because they're just so delicious they keep disappearing! My thought is you might want to pop them in the freezer. If anyone out there has storage tips for home-made "sun-dried" tomatoes let me know.
- Baking sheet (stoneware, or use parchment if you have a metal baking sheet)
- Knife and cutting board
- Time! (If you don't have dehydrator you'll have to stick around for several hours while they dry in the oven)
- cherry tomatoes (as many as you like!) I'd use 1-2 pints at least to make it worthwhile.
- Preheat the oven to 225F. If you have a convection oven, use the convection setting.
- Wash your tomatoes and slice them in half.
- Place the sliced tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet. I use stoneware and I don't need to oil the pan at all, but if you don't have a stoneware pan I'd use parchment paper on a metal baking sheet.
- Sprinkle the tomatoes with a light dusting of salt and pop them into the oven.
- Let them dehydrate for 3-4 hours - the time will depend on your oven, the size of your tomatoes & the pan you use, so the timing isn't an exact science. It took us about 3 hours in a convection oven on a stone pan.
Store them in an airtight container at room temp. I bet they won't last long!
Ideas for using them up:
- Sun-dried tomato bruschetta (sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh garlic, olive oil, drizzle of balsamic vinegar)
- Simple italian pasta (pasta, garlic, olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh parsley or basil, parmesan)
- Flavoured quinoa or grains (add sun-dried tomato and herbs to your grains as you're cooking them to add flavour)
- Put them out on a charcuterie plate as appies
- Salmon topping (mix with basil and balsamic vinegar and spread on top of the fish before baking it)
- Anywhere else you'd use sun-dried tomatoes!
Info per 10 pieces (5 whole tomatoes). Salt is approximate, depending on how much you add!
Highlights and Swaps:
- I'm comparing these home-made guys to the nutrition facts and ingredients of a jar of store bought sundried tomatoes. The store-bought kind has added oil, which drives up the calorie count.
- The store-bought kind also has added sulphites, which is pretty common for most dried fruits and similar foods. Sulphites are a preservative, but some people are sensitive or allergic to them. Even if you're not one of those people if you can get away without added preservatives why not do it!
- Try using any flavoured salt instead of plain sea salt (garlic salt would probably be delicious!)